Copper-Phosphorus Brazing Rod: Great Stuff

Published at 21:06 on 4 February 2014

I ran across this page a couple weeks ago. The rub is that jewelry-supply places only sell copper solder in insane quantities (basically, a near-lifetime supply for a mere hobbyist). I would have already ordered a small amount of it, anyhow.

Then I got to thinking. I’ve noticed this item at my local hardware store, in the torch section. Its ingredients list is basically the same as the copper jewelers’ solder. That it’s called “brazing rod” is no big deal: what jewelers call “soldering” is the same operation that plumbers call “brazing”. The per-unit price is a bit steep for those small retail packs, but it’s a good way for me to see if the stuff works well for me without having to buy a lifetime supply.

And indeed it does work well. The color doesn’t match copper wire exactly, but it’s a lot closer match than bright white silver solder. It flows well without flux, too… provided you heat it sufficiently. (You need to get things to 1400°F/760°C or so, i.e. cherry-red-hot, for it to flow readily, but with a little patience a propane torch can do this.) Those hardware store rods are at the upper end of thickness for jewelry use, but usable they are.

And it turns out that if you look around a little, you can find packages of such rods at about half the cost per pound of the jeweler’s solder. So I’ll probably order some. It’s still a lifetime supply, but one purchased at less cost to me.

If you’re tempted to do the same thing, be sure you’re ordering the 1/16″ rods. Even those are a tad on the thick end for jewelry use (and really may be too much for fine jewelry; I’m using them on largish pendants where I don’t mind a little excess). The typical size is 1/8″ diameter, which is simply way too big for any jewelry use.

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